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At Least 25 People Dead, 9 More Missing After Boat Sets Fire Off California Shore

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

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At least 25 people have been confirmed dead in the search for 34 people who went missing Monday after a scuba-diving boat caught fire near the Ventura County coastline in California.

Thirty-nine people were aboard the diving boat when it caught fire and sank. Five crew members were rescued and another nine remain unaccounted for, CBS Los Angeles reported.

The cause of the fire remains unknown.

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“I can’t breathe. … There’s no escape hatch for any of the people on board,” a crew member of the Conception said during an SOS call, according to a transcript. (RELATED: Coast Guard Seizes 26,000 Pounds Of Cocaine In The Pacific Ocean)

Five crew members were reportedly “already awake and on the bridge, and they jumped off” when the boat set fire, U.S. Coast Guard Captain Monica Rochester told reporters, according to KCBX.

The search is set to continue into Tuesday morning.

“They are going to interview the crew members and try to determine what happened,” Santa Barbara County Fire spokesman Mike Eliason told reporters, adding that Santa Barbara County Fire, Coroner’s Bureau and Coast Guard “will begin the grim task of going underwater and making the recovery of those still on board” when the boat sank.

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